The single biggest training mistake that runners make is the belief that the harder they train, the better they will get. Whether they are beginners or experts, runners have an inherently strong will and sometimes stubborn mind set when it comes to training. Any running, they believe, as long as it is harder or faster than the day before, is good training. However, the body does not have an infinite ability to heal itself and become faster and stronger without the proper balance between hard training runs and easy recovery runs. In fact, without incorporating recovery runs into your training routine, you risk losing all of the progress you’ve made to injury.
For some athletes the idea of going slow may seem counterproductive to what they are trying to accomplish; however, all the hard training runs, interval workouts, and long runs are useless if you do not let your body recover from the effort and repair the muscle damage you have done.
With the fall marathon season on hand, this lesson is particularly relevant. As your race day becomes closer and closer, it is likely that the bulk of your hard training has been accomplished. Now you are in that difficult period of not knowing how long you can hold on to this fitness that you’ve developed. This is a dangerous time for many runners. While it is most important to focus on remaining healthy and well rested, at this time, by using easy runs to simply maintain what you’ve worked so hard to get, many runners become anxious and begin to second guess their fitness.
Confidence and a good heart rate monitor are the two essential tools needed to get you to the starting line in the best condition possible. Runners need to trust the training they’ve done, and then commit to incorporate TRUE recovery runs into their training regimen to ensure optimal recovery from any training from this point on. A true recovery day should not be hard in the slightest. You should be training at a pace that you are barely breathing hard and could maintain a short conversation – and the only way to judge this objectively is to use a heart rate monitor. Despite how good you feel when running easy, you should not push the pace on a recovery day; otherwise you are defeating the purpose of the workout.
Most people are amazed at how slow they must truly go in order to accomplish this task, and sometimes it can feel almost painfully slow.
“Feeling good” on one of these recovery runs can present a temptation to pick up the pace. This is where a heart rate monitor is a critical training tool. No matter how good you may feel, maintaining a predetermined, low heart rate will guarantee you are not over doing it and risking losing the intended benefits.
Here is a good website to find the optimal heart rate for your recovery runs, based on your age and your resting heart rate: http://runnersconnect.net/training/tools/heart-rate-calculator/
Personally, I have fallen victim to the scenarios described above – becoming an overzealous runner without the confidence and tools to help me reign in and focus my efforts. However, since using my Sensoria Sports bra with the built in heart rate monitor, I have been able to recognize my counter-productive tendencies and correct them! I credit Sensoria for helping me remain injury free. Thanks Sensoria!
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